The 2011 Cover Model Search Winner: Queen Kaitlynn
It’s no secret that Kaitlynn Edgar is talented. Her hometown teachers saw Kaitlynn’s potential from the start, and competition directors and judges across the country have awarded her top honors at the regional and national levels. Clearly you saw her talent, too, because you came out in droves to cast your vote for Kaitlynn in this year’s Cover Model Search.
This summer, Kaitlynn danced a solo at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals—a performance signaling the end of her reign as National Outstanding Dancer. But Kaitlynn’s dance journey isn’t ending. It’s just beginning.
Since coming to NYC last April for the Cover Model Search competition, Kaitlynn has been on quite a journey. She auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 8, making it all the way to the Green Mile round of competition. She attended prom, graduated high school and was accepted to The Juilliard School. She spent two weeks assisting teachers at NYCDA Nationals and she attended a Complexions Contemporary Ballet workshop led by co-artistic director Desmond Richardson. Now, Kaitlynn can add Dance Spirit cover girl to her impressive list of accomplishments.
We caught up with Kaitlynn as she wrapped up her busy, dance-filled summer and got ready to head to college.
Dance Spirit: You’ve grown up with NYCDA. What was it like going to Nationals for the last time?
Kaitlynn Edgar: It was the best two weeks ever. I became so close with the other Outstanding Dancers from the year before, and I got to spend some time with [fellow CMS finalist] Zoey! I performed my solo for the last time and gave up my title. It was sad, but I’m happy that someone else gets to have that experience now. I know I can always go back to NYCDA—I’m not going to lose my spot in that family.
DS: What was the Complexions workshop like?
KE: The workshop was in Detroit, where I’m from, and I was enrolled in the professional level. We worked a lot with Desmond Richardson, which was exciting. He ran most of our classes. It was just crazy being right next to him. At the end of the workshop, we performed actual Complexions pieces. It was my favorite performance I’ve ever done—my adrenaline was really going the whole time.
DS: What made you decide to attend Juilliard?
KE: It would be stupid for me to give up this opportunity. I’ll get top-notch training while I figure out what I want to do with my dance career. I’m so excited to be living in NYC.
DS: What can you tell us about auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance”?
KE: Being there is more fun than watching the show on TV! There’s a lot of waiting and a lot of anticipation, though. I didn’t get much feedback whenever I performed and I didn’t know if that was good or bad. When I did get to talk to the judges they told me I was one of the best dancers who auditioned that season—but I got cut the day of the Green Mile. The experience taught me not to give up. Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for that season. I’m going to go back and audition again next year for sure.
DS: You got a lot of votes in the CMS competition. How’d you get the word out?
KE: My sisters and my studio were really supportive. My teacher promoted the competition by putting a piece of paper in our recital programs telling people to go online and vote, and my sisters created a Facebook event to get people to the website.
DS: Did you get any especially nice words of support?
KE: I can’t thank people enough. One person commented on my page and said, “It’s great to see someone so talented who can also give back and say thank you.” That made me so happy.
DS: How has your dancing changed since coming to NYC in April?
KE: Now that I know my path is leading me through Juilliard, my mindset has changed. I’m more focused on the Juilliard style of dancing, which is so complex. Juilliard dancers have fewer boundaries and work on a deeper level.
DS: What was your favorite part of the CMS experience?
KE: I loved getting closer with Maddie and Zoey. We’ll all be in college in NYC at the same time!
DS: What’s your advice to future CMS hopefuls?
KE: Work hard. Don’t be shy. Be very giving and accept help from others. Let yourself be inspired by the people around you. Stay open and dance with other people. And just go for it!
Why You Voted For Kaitlynn:
“There is a definite spark in Kaitlynn. The second she begins moving you can’t tear your eyes away from her.” —DS reader
“Kaitlynn embodies everything a dancer should be. Watching her dance is like watching a story unfold onstage. You don’t just see it with your eyes—you feel it with your heart.” —DS reader
“She has it all: beauty, artistry, passion, focus, work ethic, talent, technique and a desire to help others.” —DS reader
A Letter From Kaitlynn
I can't even put into words how honored and excited I am to be chosen as the Dance Spirit Cover Model Search winner! Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to vote—it means the world to me. Also, I would like to thank Maddie and Zoey for making the event such a beautiful experience and for being such an inspiration. This opportunity has allowed me to spread the passion I put into my dancing and share my love for the art with an audience that I never would have been able to reach otherwise. I hope this achievement inspires other dancers to follow their dreams even if they may seem impossible. Again, thank you so much and good luck to all of the future CMS finalists!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.